It’s twelve days into the new year, and my resolution to love people better so far has been a big fat flop.
From the outside, I am almost certain my relationships still look like giant, frozen popsicle-trees on the landscape of my life.
Bizarre and unmoving.
And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t know how my insides get so taut, how I turn into a rubber band drawn all the way out until I run out of stretch.
There are several nuances, but generally, it’s always a combination of poor self-care and unmet expectations. Lack of sleep is also a factor. Always.
I know what causes it, how to prevent it and even how to fix it, and yet, here I am again. All wound up, locked down, and iced over.
But on the inside, I am feeling the thaw.
Even though I know it doesn’t look like anything is changing on the outside, in fact, the hard little wall around my heart now has the texture of the late season slush skiers dread.
And the other day, I swear I felt myself exhale.
Why Thaw Out
On January 5th, just days after declaring my well-intended 2018 resolution to the world, I failed in a major way.
While holding screaming two month old twins, all three of us soaked in some combination of breastmilk and vomit, I yelled at my husband for flossing slow.
You heard me right, flossing slow.
And at that moment, I realized I was already failing.
In any family, but especially blended ones, the marriage relationship is the bar for all other relationships in the family. If the marriage is frozen, all other relationships that are usually nourished by its warmth are affected.
If your family is blended (or maybe just messy), you know what I’m talking about. You’ve seen it with your own eyes. Lived in it.
Needless to say, when I resolved to love people better this year, my husband was the obvious starting place.
So what did I do when I realized Inwas failing? I didn’t apologize, of course, because that would have been mature, and I was literally standing there with two vomitous babies while he Flossed. His. Teeth.
I did mentally kick my own butt for a second. And then I began to notice.
How to Thaw Out
Behavior change always starts with awareness. Like a creeping chill, it grows in annoyingness over time until it’s intolerable and something must be done. And then suddenly, you have the power (and will) to change.
So over the past two weeks (hello, where did those go), I’ve not only been really, really annoyed, I’ve also been thinking a lot about the women in my life.
I’ve so been blessed to watch so many women in my life as they go from single women, to married women and, if it didn’t work out, single women again.
Watching them, walking it out with them, being aware of their struggle while living in my own marriage, alternatively celebrating with them and hurting for many of them has been marinating me. Making me ready.
And then, after two weeks of it, I found the power (or will) inside myself. And all it took was a snippet from an NPR broadcast to call me done.
I have a million children, so the car was loud, and I was only half listening, but the person being interviewed said something like, “At first, love makes you feel butterflies,” then, “Butterflies always fly away and then what.” And then what?
And then I was like, “Oh yeah…”
Love is a choice.
One of my favorite quotes by C.S. Lewis is, “Love is not an affectionate feeling but a steady wish for the loved one’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.”
When defined in those terms, love is so much easier to do.
I can choose that. Again.
So I did.
And that’s it. That’s all that has happened in two weeks. In two weeks, I’ve remembered love is a choice.
Part of me is wondering, “How in the world do you forget this stuff, Jen?” And the other part of me so glad to remember.
I love my husband. Most days its because he’s wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. And when he’s flossing really slow and I’m covered in vomit, it’s a choice.
But, with a renewed perspective, it’s a choice I’m happy to make.
(This blog is husband approved.)